Acclaimed singer and actress Ali Harper starts today at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School as Artist-in-Residence.
As a former Rangi Ruru student, returning to the school in its 125th anniversary year is particularly significant for Harper.
“They say school days are the best years of your life and I can honestly say they were pretty fabulous years for me,” she says. “I am really excited about my work at Rangi and look forward to working closely with the girls and Robert Gilbert (Rangi Ruru’s Director of Theatre Arts) whom I greatly admire.“
The Christchurch based Harper has had a phenomenally busy last 12 months which included her national tour of “Bombshells”, the release of a second album, “Naughty But Nice” and a successful visit to New York where she performed her ‘Down Under Diva’ show at The Metropolitan Room.
Award winning New York singer-songwriter Christine Lavin, described Ms Harper as “a songwriter's dream, magical and in complete command of the stage.”
There were many highlights during the 2013 US visit, as Ali Harper explains.
“Singing Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves with Mitch Winehouse (Amy’s dad) accompanied by Rick Bogart's New Orleans trio at Labane was a massive highlight of the New York trip,” she says.
Another highlight for Harper was “hanging out” out with Julie Gold in her apartment in Greenwich Village apartment.
“She wrote the famous Bette Midler song “From a Distance” and asked me to share her piano stool while she played and sang, suggesting some of her new songs for me to sing. It was all very surreal.”
With the Rangi Ruru and Christ’s College joint production of CATS hitting the stage in mid-May this year, Robert Gilbert says take Ms Harper’s expertise will be key to the dance and musical elements.
“What possibilities,” says Gilbert. “Ali is a consummate professional and not only has the skills our girls will absorb like sponges, but has a wonderful personality and teaching style.”
• The Artist in Residence programme has been running for more than 15 years at Rangi Ruru.
• In previous years, the school has had visual artists, philosophers, composer, writers and musicians take up residency positions in the school including composer Dr Philip Norman, percussionist Roanna Funcke and painter Heather Straka.
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School: 59 Hewitts Rd, Merivale, Christchurch 8014